GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The second annual National Missing and Murdered Indigenous People Awareness Day march took place in downtown Grand Rapids Friday.
The event was hosted by the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi, Pokagon Band of Potawatomi and the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Potawatomi Indians (more commonly known as the Gun Lake Tribe). Native Americans and nonnative allies came together at Ah-Nab-Awen Park, listened to speakers and marched for 1 mile to give a voice to thousands of missing and murdered Indigenous people across the nation, saying they deserve to be a priority.
“It’s been going on for a very long time and I’m glad that there is recognition that’s occurring but there could be more and that is the purpose of today,” Nancy Smit, the Nottawaseppi tribal secretary, said. “Today is the day that is meant to acknowledge that heartache that we all feel and then encourage people to start to heal, whatever that means for them.”
Some participants wore red to honor women who are still missing.
The U.S. Department of Justice says the murder rate for Native American women is more than 10 times the national average. The DOJ also found that there are more than 4,000 unsolved cases of missing Indigenous persons and that 55% of Native American women experience domestic violence.
Victim services representatives from Michigan tribes were at the walk to direct people to available resources.